Who Are America's Spies?

New details have emerged about the kinds of people who serve as spies in Afghanistan and throughout the world in the wake of the bombing that killed seven Americans in that country's remote mountain region last week. One was Scott Robinson, a motorcycle rider who loved The Benny Hill Show. Another was Elizabeth Hanson, whose undergraduate thesis was called "Faithless Heathens: Scriptural Economics of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam." A third, Harold Brown Jr., was a former Army reservist and father of three. And in a reminder of their central role on the front line: two of the dead worked for the military contracting firm Xe Services, formerly Blackwater. Their deaths amount not just to a loss of lives but a loss of valuable intelligence. One NATO official told The New York Times, “These were not people who wrote things down in the computer or in notebooks. It was all in their heads," the official said. The C.I.A. is “pulling in new people from all over the world, but how long will it take to rebuild the networks, to get up to speed? Lots of it is irrecoverable. Lots of it.”